From IR to X-Factor: Return of Mike Wallace comes at perfect time for the Eagles

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Football is fun once again in the City of Brotherly Love. Following two monumental victories over playoff-bound opponents, the Eagles find themselves on the outside, looking in from their second consecutive playoff berth. The victories come in large part due to the resurgent passing attack led by Nick Foles- most notably, the return of the deep ball.

Since the Super Bowl LII MVP was deemed the starter by HC Doug Pederson in Week 15, the Eagles are second in the league in 20+ yard pass plays with ten. In that same span, Philly leads the league in 40+ yard pass plays with three- averaging 61.7 yards on such plays. What’s interesting is that the Eagles have the third-fewest yards-to-go before the first down on such plays. They aren’t simply chucking it in third and long situations and hoping for the best. Alternatively, Pederson and Foles are deliberately incorporating the long ball into the offense and it’s working like a charm.

The return of the long ball has also lead to the return of frequent scoring drives. Three of Foles’ 20+ yard pass plays have gone for touchdowns, a clear sign of offensive improvement as the team only had three total over their first fourteen games of the season. Additionally, them Birds’ 28.3 PPG in their last three games is fourth-best in the league during that stretch.

Despite the heavy inclusion of deep passes, Foles ranks third in completion percentage amongst signal-callers that have thrown at least 120 passes this season. As I stated earlier, the Eagles aren’t just launching the football with reckless abandon. The deep ball is an integral component of Pederson’s scheme and Foles has shown supreme confidence in his receivers- routinely giving them a chance to make a play downfield.

X-plays have given opposing defenses fits the past couple of weeks, and if the Eagles manage to sneak into the playoffs, could become an even bigger problem for rival clubs. On Monday, the Eagles activated speedy WR Mike Wallace from IR:

The return of the hypersonic Wallace adds a dimension of speed not currently found on the Eagles roster and makes the long ball even more of a threat. Of course, in order to unleash the former Pro Bowl wideout, the Birds will first need to qualify for the playoffs, as Wallace isn’t expected to be ready for their Week 17 clash against Washington. If the Birds complete their quest back the playoffs, however, I expect Wallace to be an X-Factor in the playoffs. His blazing 4.33 speed has allowed him to blow past NFL defenses for almost a decade and with gunslinger Nick Foles throwing darts the way he has I’d expect that trend to continue.

 

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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